Some of the biggest draws in professional pickleball will begin on May 18 at Life Time Peachtree Corners. Close to 1,200 players will compete in Atlanta, including the best players on the PPA Tour.
All eyes will be on Canadian No. 1 Catherine Parenteau, who recently won singles, doubles, and mixed doubles gold medals at the PPA Invisalign Open. This achievement marked the first triple crown of her career and the third in PPA history on the women’s side. Parenteau will attempt to continue her streak and defend her singles gold medal. She will need to fend off another 2022 triple crown winner, 15-year-old phenom Anna Leigh Waters. In addition to Waters, Parenteau will also have to face the formidable Lea Jansen and a field of other talented players. Jansen pushed Parenteau to five sets in last year’s final and has been in good form recently, so she is another contender for this year’s singles gold medal.
In men’s singles, PPA powerhouse Ben Johns returns to defend his title. Pickleball rising star James (J.W.) Johnson, who was not present at last year’s event, could be set for a blockbuster match against Johns. The two have had some remarkable battles, with many of their matches going to a deciding third game. This matchup showcases an exciting combination of Johns’ aggressive net play and Johnson’s accurate passing shots. Tyson McGuffin, PPA’s No. 2 singles player and last year’s silver medalist, is also a contender for the gold medal. McGuffin had a drama-filled meeting with Johns at the Arizona Grand Slam in February and wants his chance at redemption.
McGuffin took the men’s doubles gold last year and returns this year with new partner Jay Devilliers, one of the players he defeated in the championship match. His partner at last year’s event, Riley Newman, teams up with Matt Wright to form a dangerous duo. The pair defeated McGuffin last month and have captured gold medals at the PPA Riverland Open and the PPA Invisalign Open this year. Perhaps the most intimidating partnership is the sibling team of Ben Johns and Collin Johns, who have the best doubles team record on tour in 2022. McGuffin will need to lead the way with his explosive play and quick reflexes to triumph for a second straight year.
Women’s doubles also features a handful of new pairings. Last year’s champions were Lucy Kovalova/Simone Jardim, and Kovalova (ranked No. 1 in PPA women’s doubles) returns this year with partner Callie Smith. The new pairing will have to be prepared for mother-daughter duo Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters. Team Waters has defeated Kovalova/Smith multiple times over the last couple months using their strategic switches at the net. They’re certainly not the only worthy opponents by any means, however. Catherine Parenteau (ranked No. 2 in women’s doubles) and Lea Jansen also come in this event with confidence after vanquishing Kovalova/Smith at the PPA Invisalign Open earlier this month.
Kovalova’s former partner, Simone Jardim, managed to win last year’s mixed doubles gold medal with Ben Johns without dropping a set. This year, the super-team of Johns and Anna Leigh Waters (both ranked in the top 5 for mixed doubles) are expected to do the same. Johns and Waters have dominated in 2022, winning all five PPA tournaments that they competed together in. The only team that has pushed them to three sets more than once this year has been Catherine Parenteau and Riley Newman. Parenteau and Newman earned a gold medal in North Carolina earlier this month, so they’ll likely pose the biggest threat to the overwhelming favorites.
Don’t miss a minute of the action all week by watching matches live on PPA TV!